The Catoosa County News

Water comes out of the ground

- Joe Phillips writes his “Dear me” columns for several small newspapers. He has many connection­s to Walker County, including his grandfathe­r, former superinten­dent Waymond Morgan. He can be reached at joenphilli­ps@

It is easy to make new friends when you have a common enemy. There was a long line to eat in a buffet place that is so well known that people brag about how long they have waited.

We shuffled in baby steps. The queue folded upon itself several times to camouflage its length.

You prepay and the management is really proud of their food.

If that line stretched straight out it would have ended somewhere past the second row of cars.

A stream of tooth-picking folks with flushed faces trickled through the door and rolled like marbles towards the parking lot. The meal must have been worth the wait.

Fellow shufflers in line weren’t from around here, as we describe those unacclimat­ed to Southern ways, maybe passing through or visiting family who escaped from up/out/over there.

The senior male took a red plastic cup of free water, tasted it and declared it to be “the real thing.” I could smell it. I’ve washed socks in water with less chlorine.

The free water was to keep whistles wet while we suffered growling tummies and fretting kids.

Five or six buffet lines offered all you want of Mexican, Asian, Southern and four more lines. It doesn’t take me long to enjoy all the Mexican food I want, so between bites I chatted with the pilgrims in the line. They had pulled up and landed at a nearby table.

The pilgrims ate some of it all and the senior male was proud for having eaten a whole helping of grits.

His conversati­on wandered back to the taste of the water and I offered that it was nothing to write home about. I also asked if he had ever had cool water straight from a well.

He looked around like he had lost something, then asked: “You mean water comes out of the ground”? Then I knew the pilgrims came from a place where there is a lot of traffic and paved sidewalks.

“Is there a place where I can taste well water?” he asked.

There is no well around here, but my family has used the same spring since the 1830s and it still runs. Afterward they followed us home with their empty red cups and we headed for a spot now nearly covered in brush.

I parted the bushes and dipped their cups in the cold water and handed it back until they had drunk as much water as they could carry.

The senior male wiped his mouth on his sleeve and exclaimed that he could “live down here just for the water!”

“The bears feel the same way,” I replied.

 ?? ?? Phillips

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